How to Handle Aggressive Behavior in a Toddler

And, so it begins…when your toddler hits around 18 months possibly earlier or a little later they’ll start to show their emotions and feelings through actions.  These actions can be positive, like giving hugs, kisses, and snuggles; but these can also be negative, like biting, hitting, kicking, pushing, and throwing things.

This is such a hard thing to handle and get under control because they don’t know better and teaching a toddler right and wrong is a slow process.

Have you ever had anxiety over your toddler being around other toddlers for the fear of them hurting them? I know I have!

In my religion (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) when your child turns 18-months they’re able to go to nursery, so the parents can attend the rest of their meetings kid free. I remember countless moments of being so nervous leaving my child in there without me because of the fear of them hurting someone else and having a total meltdown. I am actually going through this right now with my twins (and I have two to worry about, so double the anxiety. AHHH!)

I feel so vulnerable when I need to let my kids go and have other people take over for a while. I always hope (worry more than hope) that my kids will make good decisions and be kind and respectful to others. This worry even comes with my toddlers and they’re just babies and don’t even know what’s right from wrong yet, but I still worry.

One thing I have noticed with having twins is that they’re more aggressive than my other kids were at their age. I think it’s because they have someone their exact same age wanting the exact same things they have, so they get more frustrated having things constantly taken from them and their attention constantly being shared.

My twin son is a biter, pusher, and kicker. My twin daughter is a biter (only if you put your fingers in her mouth, which her brother does all the time), hair puller, and hitter.

It’s so heartbreaking to hear that blood curdling cry when one of them bite each other or whatever else it may be. I get nervous leaving them in a room together.

The last couple months I have felt it’s been getting better though, and I think this is why.

 

HOW TO HANDLE AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR IN A TODDLER

1. Never hit or spank your toddler when you’re correcting them- This goes for EVERYTHING! If your toddler is playing with an outlet, dumping food all over the floor, playing in the garbage can or toilet, biting someone, whatever naughty thing it may be, DO NOT hit their hand or spank their bum or show any form of aggression towards them when correcting them. This teaches them to do the same thing back when they are frustrated. Try getting down to their level and gently take both of their hands into yours and say, “Ouchie. Biting hurts” (or whatever it is they did.) Or “Uh oh you made a mess, let’s clean it up.” Or “Yucky, toilet water is yucky.” I know they don’t exactly understand the words coming out of your mouth, but they will.

2. Kids, even toddlers model our behavior- Not only do they model our behavior, but they model the behavior of other kids as well (like older siblings or kids at daycare.) I am kind of a freak out type of person (horrible flaw, I know!) I get frustrated easily and I am not shy of showing of it. I have noticed this has rubbed off on my children a lot and I feel terrible for creating this in my children, but I have noticed that when I keep my cool, they keep their cool a lot more. Be aware of your actions in certain situations and try to do better at handling them in front of your children. When you’re alone by all means do whatever you want, curse if you have to haha! 😊

3. Be consistent- Make sure you’re being consistent in your behavior on reacting to situations and correcting situations. If you’re calm a lot with certain happenings and then all-of-a-sudden freak out or vice versa, it’s confusing to a child. Of course, we all have our breaking points and that’s ok; we’re not perfect and deserve to have freak out moments occasionally, but make sure you’re more consistent in the positive reactions than the negative ones.

4. Distracting them can be a lifesaver- If your toddler is doing something they shouldn’t, try distracting them or playing with them. This can seriously work wonders.

5. Don’t make it a game- Sometimes when your toddler is doing something naughty and you give them attention for it they think you’re playing with them and they make it a game where they continue to do the same thing over and over again, if this happens take them away from whatever it is they’re doing and play with them in a positive way with toys or read a book. Don’t let them think that the negative things they’re doing is a game or fun.

6. Teach them empathy and to apologize young- If your toddler hurts someone in any way, get down to their level, hold their hands and say “Ouchie. That hurt her/him, look they’re sad.” Take them to the person and teach them to say sorry. I know this could be difficult with a toddler, but if you’re consistent they’ll catch on quickly that what they did hurt someone.

7. Remember that this is out of your control- Keep reminding yourself that this isn’t your fault. This is something a lot of kids go through and can’t be helped. Keep being a good example, keep teaching them, and keep being patient. They will outgrow it. I know saying this doesn’t make it easier. It can be very difficult and stressful to have a child with aggression, but over time it will get better.

I often wonder where this aggression comes from. I often blame myself and think I’ve done something wrong, but I really do believe that some kids just have it in them more than others and it’s just something we have to work through with them.

I like to think it’s because my kids are smarter mentally than verbally and so they can’t communicate their feelings properly haha. Seriously though could you imagine how frustrating it would be to know exactly what you want, but you can’t communicate it.

Hang in there and know you’re not alone.

If you have any ideas to help handle aggressive behavior, please share!

For tips on how to tame your toddler’s tantrums go HERE

 

Your toddler's at that age where all their emotions come out in their actions...they start biting, hitting, pushing...what do you do? Here are some ideas on how to handle it. tessatomom.com
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How to Deal with the Frustration That Comes with a Toddler

How to Deal with the Frustration That Comes with a Toddler

Having an infant is hard, they cry a lot, their attitudes are unpredictable, there’s lack of sleep on both sides, and you experience lots of worry.

Having a toddler though is a whole new ball game. The toddler years are hard, really hard! Have you ever heard of the “terrible two’s?” Well…I think it’s the “trying two’s” and “terrible three’s.” It honestly gets harder before it gets easier.

When your baby turns 18 months this is when it all starts. They are becoming smarter and starting to figure things out more. Outlets are their best friend and they get into EVERYTHING!!!! All these things just get worse as time goes on until they hit the age where they learn what’s not ok and what is and even then, you’d be lucky if they listen. My five-year-old still does things that are extremely shocking to me that she should know not to do.

With that being said; it may be super hard, and you may spend your entire day trying to keep them alive and trying to keep your house from not being completely destroyed; but this age is so fun too! Their personalities are really starting to come to life and it continues to grow more and more each day. It’s just an amazing thing to witness them grow into little people.

Thank heavens these little terrors are cute, or I bet the hard times would be so much harder.

Right now, what I’m personally dealing with, is my 20-month-old twins getting into EVERYTHING!

We’re renting, so I can’t lock up my cabinets because we can’t put holes in them and there is no hardware on the outside. It is so challenging. I obviously have put everything dangerous up high where they can’t touch it, but it gets exhausting having them pull everything out of every cupboard and drawer 15 times a day.

My biggest challenge is our Lazy Susan we have. I have a good portion of our food in it and I have no-where else to put it, and they get into it all day long (mainly my son, he’s a piglet!)

The other day I came into the kitchen to find he had dumped an entire bag of pretzels onto the floor and they were sitting in the pile eating them.

Of course, I hurried to take a picture and just laughed, but when things like this are happening multiple times a day, it gets really-tough, and I just want to hide in my room and cry!

There are days I feel like I don’t do one thing besides chase them around and clean up after them.

I know this is a little more challenging for me because I have two destroyers, but I remember even when I had one how difficult it was.

The constant crying, whining, needing me, wanting me, it gets exhausting. I feel so terrible to complain because I know this is what motherhood is all about and I should enjoy every second because they grow up so fast.

So many older, wiser mothers tell me I’ll miss these days of dirty, sticky finger prints all over the walls, food crumbs all over the house, the laughter, the tears, and the constant noise.

I know they’re right! I totally and completely believe them! I know I’ll miss these days and they are coming sooner rather than later, but it doesn’t take away the daily frustrations that come along with parenting.

It doesn’t take away that I still have other things on-a-daily basis that need to be done and I have other priorities and responsibilities besides my toddlers (like church callings, household duties, family members/friends needing help with things, my older children needing me, my husband, just other life things.)

It’s hard to juggle it all and then when our toddler does something that’s frustrating it throws fuel on the fire.

I think that our frustration with our toddler’s stem from a much bigger frustration than simply it being our toddler that’s causing it.

I think that there are underlying factors creating our frustrations and whatever it is our toddlers do next push us over the edge.

Which bring us to this…


 

HOW TO DEAL WITH THE FRUSTRATION THAT COMES WITH A TODDLER

  • Figure out what is really frustrating you– Is there something your husband did that’s bothering you? Are there upset feelings you’re experiencing towards family members, friends, or neighbors? Are there to many things on your list that need to be done with little time to do them? Figure out the root of your frustration.
  • Fix it– Whatever the root of the frustration is…fix it. If there are many roots, fix one at a time.
  • Vent/Communicate– One of the biggest things to help ease your frustrations is talking about them. Get it all off your chest and start fresh the next day.
  • Sleep– make sure you’re getting a good night’s rest (easier said than done with littles, I know, but try.)
  • Make time for your spouse- It’s so important to make sure you are connecting with your spouse and getting your needs met there.
  • Make time for yourself- This one can seriously feel almost impossible at times, but it’s crucial and it’s not a selfish act. This helps so much and is so important. You need to take time for yourself and do things you love besides being a wife and mother.
  • Get away to recharge your batteries- This can be challenging to arrange, but over-night stays with your spouse, friends, or sisters can really help you recharge your batteries. It’s good for your kids to have breaks from you too!
  • Let things go- This is a struggle for me, but it really helps the days I actually do it. Just let things go, let your house go, let the laundry go, let your to do list go. Take a day off and play with your kids, reconnect and have fun, there’s always tomorrow.
  • Exercise- If you can even find time for this, heck if you can find the energy for this it’ll really help relieve tension and frustration. It just makes you feels good.
  • Baby proof your house the best you possibly can- If you can minimize the messes and all the things they get into and do that drive you bonkers, then things will be so much easier. If this is a difficult task to do because you don’t have the space, or you literally can’t because you’re renting, then get creative at figuring out how to help minimize what frustrates you. If you have to literally put everything in a box everyday that’s in your lower cupboards and stick it in your room, then do it. It won’t be forever, just until they grow out of the phase of getting into everything.
  • Find the sweetness- Every time you get frustrated with your toddler over something they do, find the sweetness before you speak to them. Look into their adorable face and gentle eyes and remind yourself they don’t know better and teach them, have them help you clean up the mess.
  • Take a break- When everything is going to poop…the house is a disaster, lots of tantrums are being thrown, tears and screaming won’t let up…TAKE A BREAK! Take your toddler outside and take a break, go for a walk, go jump on the tramp, go play in the backyard, go for a drive, go to a park. Get out of the house!  They need breaks just as much as we do. They get tired of being cooped up inside all day and they like change of scenery.

There you have it. I hope some of these tips are helpful to you. I know they are no-brainers, but sometimes reading them and having a refresher can really help.

Remember that you’re not alone. It is so natural and normal to feel frustrated with your toddlers. This is a very hard stage because they are right in the middle of learning things and understanding things, but don’t fully understand the outcomes of the things they’re learning.

The toddler years take a lot more time and patience. Find joy in them though because they can be so much fun too! Focus on the fun and do the best you can. Make time for yourself and give yourselves breaks. You deserve them!

 

Having a toddler can be so hard and frustrating at times. Here are some ideas on how to deal with that frustration. tessatomom.com
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Stop Fighting the Beastly Tantrums and Start Taming Them

So, you’re at the park and you tell your toddler it’s time to go and they yell, “NO” and run away. You chase after them, pick them up, they start thrashing around, and screaming.

You manage to get them to the car and put them in their car seat, but they try to escape by trashing around some more, and scream even louder. You finally get them buckled and they cry all the way home.

Is this a consistent scene in your life?

Tantrums are the absolute worst! They are so difficult to handle. They are physically, mentally, and emotionally straining on us and I’m truly convinced they are shaving years off my life.

Tantrums are inevitable though. They are going to happen no matter what, but it’s our job to try and help our children work through them, teach them, and to not throw fuel on the fire. Easier said than done, right?

My son threw the worst tantrums from about 14 months-4 years old (he started getting better around this age, he’s 8 now and he still gets super upset over things; but doesn’t throw tantrums like he did. Thank heavens!)

My daughter on the other hand is 5 and is still throwing massive tantrums! I honestly think they are worse now than when she was an actual toddler (more on this in another post.)

I have cried many tears over my kids and their tantrums. There have been days where I have literally wanted to walk out the door and never look back. It’s hard, but remember, it won’t last forever.

I always blame myself thinking that there is something I am doing wrong and that I am causing these outbursts, but as the years have gone on I’ve come to realize, this is just part of raising children.

I do believe that us parents are BIG factors in this particular situation though, but I also believe that this is just kids being kids.

Toddlers brains are learning so much every day and they pick up on new things on a daily basis. They can be so smart in their vocabulary, understanding other people, motor skills, and even with knowing educational things, but their emotions are so far behind.

It takes years, and when I say years I mean years to develop emotionally, heck, I still feel like I’m trying to figure it out myself most days.

The first step to help tame these tantrums is understanding that, so this will require a lot of patience on your end.


 

TIPS TO HELP TAME TANTRUMS

AVOID TANTRUM TRIGGERS

  • This can be a hard one to figure out and it may be different for each child, but if you can figure out what triggers their tantrums this will be huge.
  • Realistically you’re not going to be able to avoid their triggers all the time, but the more you avoid them, then hopefully when the time comes that you can’t, it won’t resort to a tantrum, because they are getting out of the habit of them.

POSSIBLE TANTRUM TRIGGERS

  1. Not receiving enough of your attention
  2. Saying “No” too often
  3. Transitioning to the next thing
  4. Not getting enough sleep
  5. Not having a consistent and nutritious diet
  6. Not feeling understood

1. Not receiving enough of your attention

  • A big tantrum trigger I feel a lot of kids have is not getting enough attention from their parents, so they act in negative ways because even though they are getting negative attention they are still getting attention.
  • I find this trigger to be true with my own kids, but I don’t feel this solves all the problems. There needs to be a good balance, because your children need to understand that they can’t always have ALL your attention.
  • If you take 20 minutes of INDIVIDUAL, quality time with each of your children every day I promise their attitudes will start improving. (Watching movies, TV shows, or playing video games does not qualify as quality time.)
  • This may be a very difficult and unrealistic thing to do depending on your situation and schedule. If the time frame is a bit much, then ten minutes is fine, whatever you can do. If that still is too hard then take at least 30 minutes every day with all your children doing something fun that doesn’t involve technology.

2. Saying “No” too often

  • Now, I am not saying that you have to say “Yes” to everything because that would be madness. What I mean is that if your child asks you for something or to do something with them and it’s not getting in the way of anything, then do it! Show your kids that they come first, their ideas are important and valid, and that they matter.
  • The biggest thing I am referring to when I say to not say “No” too often is this. You know how when your child may ask for ice cream when you’re out and about; and there may be multiple reasons why you guys can’t get ice cream right then? Instead of jumping right out with a “NO,” go about it a different way. Instead maybe say, “That would be so much fun and super yummy, but we just can’t get ice cream right now (then give them the reason.)”
  • Children love to understand the “why” of everything. Always give them a solid, valid reason as to why you’re saying no, so they can understand better.

 3. Transitioning to the next thing

  • This is a major tantrum trigger in my house. If I don’t give my kids a heads up that we need to leave from somewhere, or go somewhere, or to turn off the TV, then there will without a doubt be a tantrum.
  • Always give your kids a heads up and the best thing to help with this is using a timer.
  • Every time we have to change what we are doing and transition to the next thing I set a 5-minute timer.
  • This isn’t magic, and it doesn’t always work, but boy does it help A TON!

4. Not getting enough sleep

  • Ok, this a no brainer, but still can be very hard to follow with our busy lives.
  • If your child isn’t getting enough sleep then of course they’ll be ornery. Aren’t we when we don’t get enough sleep?
  • Do whatever you can to not do things close to nap time, or that’ll interrupt and shorten nap time.
  • If your child doesn’t sleep well at night figure out what time of day they are moodiest and avoid doing things during that time.

5. Not having a consistent and nutritious diet

  • This is so important for your children. You need to keep them on a consistent and nutritious diet. If they are lacking certain nutrients it can affect their emotions; and if they are hungry that’ll definitely cause their mood to change.

6. Not feeling understood

  • This one breaks my heart, because I couldn’t imagine how difficult it would be to not be able to fully communicate my feelings, but still feel and experience them.
  • Have you ever wondered why our kids are throwing tantrums in the first place?
  • I bet 80% of the time it’s because they don’t feel understood. The other 20% is because they are flat out mad they aren’t getting what they want.
  • Try and be more compassionate and understanding. They are stuck in these little bodies with more knowledge in knowing what they want than they can communicate and that’s got to be so frustrating. Why do you think babies cry all the time, because they have no other way of communicating, but know what they want? That’s exactly how it is for our toddlers, but worse because they are learning to communicate better and feel you should understand them more, but we don’t, so they get frustrated.

Here are some options on how to handle the tantrum when it occurs. Every child is different and so you need to figure out what works best for them.

WHAT TO DO WHEN THE TANTRUM OCCURS

  1. Stay Clam
  2. Ignore
  3. Remove
  4. Engage
  5. Discuss

1. Stay Calm

  • This can be so hard to do because let’s be honest dealing with tantrums makes our blood boil, right? Especially if you hear them multiple times a day.
  • Your child picks up on your moods and energy and if they can sense your uptight, tense, and mad then this throws fuel on the fire.
  • If you remain calm, speak softly, don’t be rough with them, or engage in negative behavior then they will most likely calm down quicker.

2. Ignore

  • Don’t give into their behavior. Don’t laugh, smile, roll your eyes, anything. Just ignore them until they have calmed down, then interact with them once they’re calm.

3. Remove

  • Remove them from the situation. Take them to a save place and put them there until they have calmed down.

4. Engage

  • When they are having their tantrum console them, hold them tightly, snuggle them until they’re calm.
  • This one is harder to do because most toddlers thrash around, kick, scream, and punch when they are throwing their tantrums. Some kids don’t want to be touched at all, but for the ones that don’t mind, try sitting on the ground in Indian style, set them in your lap with the back of their head on your chest, hold their hands and wrap your arms around and their arms around them and sway back and forth, this can really help calm them down.

5. Discuss

  • Do not try and talk to your child in the middle of a tantrum, you’ll get nowhere. Wait until they are calm before you talk about it.
  • Depending on your child’s age will determine what you say to them, but no matter what the age you need to tell them it’s not ok to act like that. Make sure you tell them that it’s ok to be sad and mad, but not to behave like that.
  • If your child is older keep the lecture under 60 seconds and use words they understand.

All this information is probably geared more towards 2-year-old to five-year-old children. Any child below two years old you have to just distract them from their tantrums and let them have them, because they are too young to do anything else. Their tantrums don’t usually last long. Their crying might, but the tantrum usually doesn’t.

The distraction method works wonders on little ones though. You can also try and do something that makes them laugh, like tickling them, or singing.

Hang in there! Like I said before it doesn’t last forever, but it will last a long time. Think about the teenage years! AHHHH! It may not be tantrums anymore, but holy mood swings, here we come!

The most important thing to instill into your child during these tantrum times is that it’s ok to feel what they are feeling, it’s how they are acting and their behavior that’s not ok. Don’t shut off your children’s emotions, just help guide them on how to express them appropriately.

Good Luck! If there are any awesome tricks and tips you have up your sleeve I’d love to hear them. I’m heading into the tantrum years right now with my twins! HELP ME!

 

Tantrums are everyone's worst nightmares. Here is a great post on how to help tame the beastly tantrums.

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